I've posted on why I think the Kobo Libra H20 is, considering its hardware features, the best value e-reader. In this post, as I've covered Kobo e-readers before, the short review focuses on general impressions that are specific to the Libra H20:
- Unlike the flush screen of the Kobo Forma, the Kobo Libra H20's screen is recessed. I prefer the recessed screen as it means one less layer between the reader and the E-Ink layer. Another issue to consider is the screen is slightly darker than the Forma - I would classify the screen's quality as somewhere between the older Aura H20 Edition 2 and the Forma. In other words, the contrast could be better, and the background lighter.
- The front light is serviceable at best. It is uneven and has a noticeable shadowing across the right edge. In comparison, the Kindle Paperwhite's white lighting is more even and uniform. The front light issue has been noticed by many users, so it is not just an issue of variation between unit batches.
- The buttons are slightly softer than the ones used on the Forma. I speculate Kobo received complaints regarding the Forma's buttons and so decided to improve their functionality.
- Similar to the buttons, Kobo might have re-worked the power button due to negative feedback. In the Forma, the button is located to the right side and feels mushy when pressed. The Libra H20's button, on the other hand, is located - similar to Kobo Aura H20 Edition 2 and the Kobo Aura ONE - at the back of the device. The larger circular power button also is soft to press.
- Compared to the Forma, the build quality is a downgrade. Tap the back casing of the device, and you get a hollow noise. The Forma, with the flexible backplane of its Mobius Carta screen, feels more rigid when held.
Overall, the negatives noted are outweighed by the Libra H20's hardware features that are found with premium e-readers (larger than 6-inches screen, the support of auto-rotation and side buttons). It costs only £30 more than the Paperwhite, but you get a lot more for that amount. The only significant issue that might put-off some users is the passable front light. The lighting does the job of providing illumination, but it might bother those who consider front light quality an essential feature to their reading experience.